Delving into the Heart of Utah: Exploring the Size and Growth of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, the capital and largest city of Utah, is a fascinating and diverse geographic area that makes for an ideal topic to teach students about. This article will guide teachers in introducing their students to the size of Salt Lake City, its distinguishing characteristics, and methods for engaging the students in meaningful discussions about how cities grow and develop.

1. Start with numbers and statistics

Begin by providing students with basic statistics to help them grasp the vast size of Salt Lake City. Its population is approximately 199,000 people and covers an area of 110.4 square miles (285.9 square kilometers). Compare these numbers to other well-known cities like New York or Los Angeles, or even smaller cities closer to home for perspective on just how large Salt Lake City is.

2. Introduce maps and visuals

Utilize maps from various periods throughout Salt Lake City’s history. Have students examine how the city has grown in terms of both area and population over time. Encourage them to identify major landmarks, points of interest, or geographical features that stand out on each map.

3. Discuss key moments in Salt Lake City’s history

Explain how historical events have shaped the size of Salt Lake City. For example, mention the arrival of Brigham Young and his followers in 1847, which led to the establishment of Salt Lake City as a major religious community, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit in 1869, which increased trade opportunities.

4. Explore unique geographical features

Inform students about how Salt Lake City’s location between mountains and desert contributes to its growth patterns and diverse landscape. Points worth discussing include the Wasatch Range, which defines the eastern boundary of the city, as well as Great Salt Lake itself – a unique body of water covering over 1,700 square miles (4,400 square kilometers).

5. Facilitate interactive activities

Engage your students in interactive activities to help solidify their understanding of Salt Lake City’s size. For instance, conduct a mock urban planning exercise where students are tasked with designing a new neighborhood or expanding the city’s infrastructure, taking both its physical size and population growth into account.

6. Wrap up with a class discussion

Finish your lesson by facilitating a group discussion about what future changes and challenges Salt Lake City might face, as well as any broader lessons about urban development applicable to other cities.


Teaching students about the size of Salt Lake City is an essential aspect of helping them understand city planning, history, geography, and demographics. By utilizing engaging methods and exploring the unique features of the city, students will become more informed about urban growth and the factors that influence it.

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